Absentee, provisional votes will pick new Havre de Grace mayor

May 10, 2007|By Madison Park | Madison Park,Sun Reporter

Few expected drama to be a part of municipal elections in a small Harford County town where only about 1,800 people cast ballots at a single polling place.

But the race for mayor in Havre de Grace remains undecided following Tuesday's election, as the top two vote-getters were separated by 38 votes with 60 absentee and eight provisional ballots yet to be counted.

And the final tally that decides whether Wayne Dougherty or Gary Wasielewski will be the new mayor could stretch into next week, city officials said.

"This is really exciting because it is so competitive," Wasielewski said after Tuesday's ballots were counted.

At 10 a.m. today, city officials will count absentee ballots at City Hall. Sally Daigle, the city's chairwoman of the Board of Election Supervisors, said officials wanted to make sure all absentee ballots had been received before starting the count. After provisional ballots are counted Monday, the city will announce the official winner.

Voters showed strong interest in the election this week, as colorful campaign ads dotted the streets and tidy lawns in the city. Nearly 30 percent of the city's registered voters came out to cast their ballots electronically at the Church of St. Patrick social hall, the lone polling station.

After the announcement of the unofficial results at City Hall on Tuesday night, Dougherty, his face reddened after a day of campaigning in the sunshine, was elated that he was in the lead but restrained by the realization that he hadn't won.

"It is so close," he said. "It is so close."

Wasielewski stood a few feet away, appearing unfazed by the hubbub.

"I'll wait it out until it's official," he said.

Dougherty and Wasielewski easily surpassed incumbent John Correri, Jr., who received 12 percent of the vote, and City Council President Frederick Cullum, who had 9 percent.

Dougherty is the oldest of the four mayoral candidates, a retired member of the Harford County Sheriff's Office who emphasized public safety. He captured 41 percent of the vote.

Wasielewski is the youngest candidate, a history and government teacher at Havre de Grace High School who campaigned for innovative thinking in government. He had 38 percent of the vote.

When the initial excitement of the tight race faded Tuesday night, Wasielewski and Dougherty had little to say, struck by the reality that a long week awaited before one of them would be sworn in as mayor on May 21.

Voters also cast ballots for City Council, electing Joe Kochenderfer, Barbara Jenifer-Ferguson and Randolph Craig from among eight candidates.

madison.park@baltsun.com

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